Handmade Fish Ball and Pork Mince Noodle Soup

We’ve been having some fun in the kitchen. A couple of weeks ago helper D caught Covid-19 and it was a bit of a tough period having her in isolation so that she didn’t pass the virus to the oldies at home. During that time cooking was very functional and I didn’t have time to try new things out with all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, pet care and still keeping up with my work. But thankfully she has recovered well and so I’m back to the routine of having new cooking adventures on the weekend!

One of the things I’ve missed is having fishball noodles on a low carb diet. Most commercial versions are chock-full of starch. But this noodle soup is truly something embedded in my childhood memories. I remember having fishball noodles as a really satisfying school recess meal. Back in the day one bowl of this cost 30 cents. Probably 3 fishball and the flexibility was in choosing the kind of noodles – yellow noodles, kway teow (flat rice noodles) or bee hoon (rice vermicelli). And not forgetting the perk of having free refills of soup! It was very simple and plain, but somehow it epitomized the simple flavors of my childhood food experiences.

Anyway it occurred to me that the traditional hand made fish balls actually are very simple with minimal ingredients and no starch. In the old days, making fish balls would involve intensive chopping and mincing of the fish meat with a large cleaver, but this has been simplified by using a food processor. So much easier!

For the fish balls I used meat from the yellowtail fusilier fish (also known as a potato fish 黄尾鱼). Other types of fish such as mackerel can also be used but the yellowtail fusilier fish is a nice fleshy fish that cooks well with a firm texture to the flesh and with a less oily fishy flavor than mackerel. And in the usual Asian nose-to-tail style of cooking, the head and bones are not wasted and are used to make the soup stock. However if you aren’t keen on a fish broth for the noodles you can use a chicken stock instead. This noodle bowl was a “dry” version with seasoning added to the noodles and broth in a bowl on the side, but it can be eaten with the noodles in a large bowl of soup as well (probably closer to my childhood memories of fishball noodle soup).

My current go to food critic at home is my dad. He’s 83 years old and although he is slowing down and needs to use a wheelchair and also needs help for feeding now, he has a tremendous appetite and appreciation for good food. I noticed of late his face lights up when we cook or buy food that is familiar to his childhood. So it was really rewarding to have him praise the fishball noodles and to finish up his bowl with gusto.

So this recipe is a keeper – it was so gratifying seeing the smile on his face for this effort.

Handmade Fishballs and Pork Mince Noodles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

    Fishball Ingredients
  • 1 kg of yellowtail fusilier fish (3-4 whole fish that will yield 400-500g of flesh)
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • large bowl of ice water (about 3-4L)
  • Fish broth ingredients

  • head and bones from the fish
  • 1 knob of ginger about 1-1.5 inches thick, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/3 cup of soy beans
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar substitute
  • 8 cups of water
  • Noodle ingredients

  • 4 portions of shirataki noodles
  • 2 cups of cleaned bean sprouts
  • 2 cups of leafy green vegetables (can be chye sim, bok choy or Chinese lettuce)
  • 200 g pork mince
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 packets of shirataki noodles
  • Marinade for pork mince

  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • Seasoning for noodles

  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp sambal belachan

Directions

  1. Fillet the fish, scraping the meat off the bones and set aside the bones. Put the fish flesh and salt and pepper in a food processor and gently pulse for several minutes until the mixture is smooth and homogenous.
  2. Wet your hands and squeeze the fish paste through your thumb and index finger (the thumb and index finger is held like a ring, and the fish paste squeezed through into the shape of a ball). Squeeze the fish balls into the bowl of ice water. Set aside.
  3. 3.Put the Instant Pot into saute mode and add 1 tbsp to the inner pot. Saute the fish bones and sliced ginger till they are slightly caramelized. Add the water, soy beans, salt and sugar substitute to the pot and seal the pot. Put on manual high pressure 45 minutes. When done, drain the broth into a large soup pot.
  4. Marinate the minced pork with the seasoning and put in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the bean sprouts (30 seconds) and leafy green vegetables (1 minute) and set aside. Put the minced pork in, breaking the pork up. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove with a strainer and set aside.
  6. Prepare the shirataki noodles and season with the noodle seasoning.
  7. Bring the pot of fish broth to a boil and drop in the fish balls and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Assemble the bowls of noodles. Place the seasoned shirataki noodles into a shallow bowl and top woth the bean sprouts, green vegetables, minced pork and 5-6 fish balls. Serve hot with a side bowl of fish broth.

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